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FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT

Haste thee, escape thither: for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. Genesis xix. 22.

Angel of wrath! why linger in mid-air,

While the devoted city’s cry

Louder and louder swells? and canst thou spare,

Thy full charg’d vial standing by?”

Thus, with stern voice, unsparing Justice pleads:

He hears her not — with soften’d gaze

His eye is following where sweet Mercy leads,

And till she give the sign, his fury stays.

Guided by her, along the mountain road,

Far through the twilight of the morn,

With hurrying footsteps from thé accurs’d abode

He sees the holy household borne;

Angels, or more, on either hand are nigh,

To speed them o’er the tempting plain,

Lingering in heart, and with frail sidelong eye

Seeking how near they may unharm’d remain.

“Ah! wherefore gleam those upland slopes so fair?

And why, through every woodland arch,

Swells yon bright vale, as Eden rich and rare,

Where Jordan winds his stately march;

If all must be forsaken, ruin’d all,

If God have planted but to burn? —

Surely not yet th’ avenging shower will fall,

Though to my home for one last look I turn.”

Thus while they waver, surely long ago

They had provok’d the withering blast,

But that the merciful Avengers know

Their frailty well, and hold them fast.

“Haste, for thy life escape, nor look behind” —

Ever in thrilling sounds like these

They check the wandering eye, severely kind,

Nor let the sinner lose his soul at ease.

And when, o’erwearied with the steep ascent,

We for a nearer refuge crave,

One little spot of ground in mercy lent,

One hour of home before the grave,

Oft in His pity o’er His children weak,

His hand withdraws the penal fire,

And where we fondly cling, forbears to wreak

Full vengeance, till our hearts are wean’d entire.

Thus, by the merits of one righteous man,

The Church, our Zoar, shall abide,

Till she abuse, so sore, her lengthen’d span,

E’en Mercy’s self her face must hide.

Then, onward yet a step, thou hard-won soul;

Though in the Church thou know thy place,

The mountain farther lies — there seek thy goal,

There breathe at large, o’erpast thy dangerous race.

Sweet is the smile of home; the mutual look

When hearts are of each other sure;

Sweet all the joys that crowd the household nook,

The haunt of all affections pure;

Yet in the world e’en these abide, and we

Above the world our calling boast;

Once gain the mountain-top, and thou art free:

Till then, who rest, presume; who turn to look, are lost.

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